08-14-2017 07:42 PM
111 123 ...
tools
  1. xandros9's Avatar
    xandros9’s iOS and Android Adventure
    A massive dump of various thoughts by a compulsive platform hopper.
    Part I: Introduction/The Forbidden Fruit

    Every once in a while, I like to try something new. Whether its feeding the "grass is always greener" adage or just wanting to change things up, it's something I realize I do more often than I’d like to admit. Thankfully I can just swap my AT&T SIM around as I see fit without much complications, save for the SIM size differences.
    From Palm OS to Android its always nice to see things how things are done differently, etc. especially over time. They may technically all do the same things, but how they do it differently always interested me.

    And it certainly brings a nice perspective too, and I wanted to talk about what I've experienced in-depth.

    But anyways, around mid-August last year (2015) it became clear that my Nokia Lumia 830 and Windows Phone 8.1 (Update 1) just wasn't going to meet my new mobile needs.
    (and 10 wasn’t any better at the time, nor was it at the level of quality it is now back then.)

    This writeup is going to seem like a giant list of bullets, and I feel that’s the best way to convey everything since many are smaller points. Keep in mind that it’s written in the context of Windows Phone.

    The Issues


    • The “App Gap” (no escaping it, eh?)
      • GroupMe on Windows Phone 8 was much slower than its compatriots.
        • worth noting 10 has a very nice new GroupMe app which also hooks into People.

      • Snapchat is a very popular communications platform I wanted to get onboard again.
      • 3rd-party Yik Yak app, Yodel, was pulled from the store two days before my 830 was fixed up with the RM-985 board. It can be entertaining and perhaps useful, especially when on campus.
      • (Ironically I don’t use it much anymore.)
      • Canvas (school uses it for education things, its like Blackboard - for those familiar with its competitor.)
      • Facebook. Something reasonably speedy and full-featured was preferable to what we had.
        • although ironically I don’t use the main Facebook app anymore because of Facebook's experimentation. (See intentional crashes and other experiments. I use Paper on iOS and Lite + the website on Android now.)

      • my credit union, fairly self-explanatory there. I get mobile check deposits too!
      • OneNote - I wanted my password protected sections and speed. W10M's Office didn't wow me then.
        • (Interestingly password-protected section access is a feature W10M has over the Android version.)


    • I was getting a bit tired of the same-old stuff, Windows Phone wasn't appearing to go anywhere for the time being; (remember, this was August 2015) and 10 wasn't looking to be the savior it was made out to be anytime soon, and I wanted to try something new.

    Ultimately, I researched options an eventually sprung for a used space-gray 32 GB iPhone 5s, Apple's best of 2013. (I used it with stock iOS 9.1 Beta - 9.2)

    • I decided the Touch ID and performance bump to be worth the markup online over a 5 or 5c.
    • I needed at least a 32 GB model to fit my music and still have some room left over. (I can’t afford to and don't wish to stream)
    • Worth noting the last iOS device I used seriously was an iPod touch running iOS 5 (I dabbled a bit with 6) so its been a while.


    Getting Physical

    The phone came without fanfare and getting set up was fairly straightforward. I did have to borrow a Lightning cable from my roommate since mine was still in the mail, awkwardly enough. But anyways, here's some thoughts on the hardware from my few months of usage.

    The Good

    Hardware-wise, it wasn't a revelation or anything really fancy over the 830 but it was still very nice.

    • It was compact
      • Whereas the 830 and many of its 5+ inch compatriots were often unwieldy in my hands, the 4-inch 5s was more than manageable with one hand, cementing my want for a phone that isn't as big as today's Windows Phone and Android mid-range to high-end phones.
        • (which will come into play in Part II.)


    • It was a premium, high-end phone too on top of being compact, something I don't see much of today.
      • (which was a huge problem in picking an Android phone, but more on that later.)

    • Battery life was solid.
      • Certainly blows away my old 920 in web browsing, but vs. the 830, they're both quite nice.
      • It's standby battery usage is terrific when left overnight.

    • Touch ID has utterly spoiled me in its speed in authentication.
    • 120 fps slo-mo video capture is fun. Haven't tried the time-lapse feature myself, but my sister has done great work with it.
    • The camera is speedy to start and take photos.
    • It has a ringer switch! I may not be sure what my dream phone would be, but it’d certainly have this feature.


    The Not-So-Good


    • Had to get a new cable because Lightning. It’s fine otherwise.
    • No Qi wireless charging
      • the 3rd-party add-on Qi pads that plug into the Lightning port doesn't make me feel confident in their ribbon cable’s durability.
        • but they DO work well.


    • Camera left me wishing I could put even the 2012 Lumia 920's camera hardware in it.
      • It's not bad, its just not as good as I was used to, especially in low light with the Lumia’s Optical Image Stabilization.
      • I find myself just not attempting many low-light photography shots anymore since I got rid of the 830.
        • I miss that actually, but these cameras just don't deliver in the same way. (also referring to the Galaxy Alpha)

      • I miss my camera button too. The volume keys work, but it’s just not the same.
        • (also applies to the Galaxy)


    • I miss Glance and double-tap-to-wake.
    • No high-sensitivity mode for use with gloves on.


    The Fence


    • It's a physical home button again! I kinda like it, but its another point of failure some might not care for.
      • has some slight crackly quirk that, while isn't a functional issue, is odd. Probably because I bought used.

    • I don't use NFC often, its still an omission I'm sure many will miss. No Apple Pay on this model either.


    Gone Soft

    On the software end, there's a lot to talk about too.

    Before I get to the "apps, apps, apps" spiel I want to first talk about iOS itself.

    Since I was running ahead of the curve for some time and didn't get onboard the iOS 9.0.x jailbreak, there was no jailbreak available for my poor updated phone, which meant a stock experience for me, like most people.

    The Paintjob

    I will say that skin-deep, Windows Phone has more customization with its easily recolored, resized start screen and lock screen functionality.

    Although some things like MSN Weather and Office seem to have lost some of those features in 10, the start screen was a powerful and beautiful part of the OS that I loved in 8.0 and 8.1's heyday. I could pin documents (like Word doc with directions, a OneNote To-Do list, an Excel spreadsheet for data) and other objects to it, not just applications! I'd get updates from Ars Technica and Pocketnow on my start screen just with their website pinned. And in the rest of the OS, I could toggle the signature white-on-black or black-on-white theme with an accent color to spice things up.

    iOS doesn’t do any of that! I could move icons around, change wallpapers, and turn badges on and off (those red numbered notification circles) but that’s about it. Files stay in their apps, not on the home screen. Or anywhere else for that matter.
    Although one could pin webpages a la web apps, but I didn't use that too much.
    Technically I can fine tune some things WP doesn't have like toggling the translucency effects, system-wide bold font, but those are fairly small fry. (although don't get me wrong, they're still nice to have)

    Graphically, iOS is a good-looking, colorful OS in my opinion, but it can also be a blinding OS in that it is very reliant upon pure, clean white. I was often left wishing for a night display mode a la f.lux but I made do with a Zoom workaround.

    Pro tip: Dim your iOS screen with an accessibility setting trick - TechRepublic
    Turns out that in the upcoming iOS 9.3, Apple started their photocopiers and created Night Shift, which is basically f.lux, except made by Apple. Call me excited for the addition, although the iPhone probably won't be my daily driver in the future most likely.
    Nuts 'n' Bolts (and other general things)

    It's not just pretty pictures.

    As I got into the settings, some of Apple's attention to detail started to come through. iOS is not short of options. The Accessibility section alone has some features that Windows Phone can only dream of like Assistive Touch, mono audio or LED flash notifications thus far.

    It's worth noting that older phones get handsfree Siri activation (take that Hey Cortana!) when plugged in.
    It wasn't something I used often, but now I realize I missed asking what the temperature was while deciding what to wear.

    Privacy settings were granular, which was nice. (I believe 10 Mobile has that now)
    Apps can add their own preferences into the main settings app, which was interesting because installed apps now make up half the list. Whether its Excel or GasBuddy, they often appear here.

    Most people out here at my university use iPhones. I feel Android phones are almost as rare as Windows Phones were in high school interestingly enough. But anyways, since the iPhone is so common, iMessage becomes very useful. It's integration is seamless with text messages and it’s glorious. Read receipts and seeing when the other person is typing is definitely a useful addition. If Microsoft can make Skype integration as seamless and foolproof Apple has with iMessage, it will be very, very impressed. (more from the fact that MS managed to not screw up, but eh.)

    Worth noting that people noticed when I switched phones because there is a visual distinction between SMS messages and iMessages. (so when I switched to and from iPhone respectively, my text bubbles changed from green to blue and back on other people’s phones.) Doesn’t really make a difference, its just an interesting thing to note.

    Actionable notifications are the best. Being able to quickly reply in the notification to a text message or Facebook message is a great experience. Being able to act on email or a social media friend request without leaving your current application is invaluable. Windows 10 Mobile has only just recently added the feature, and it doesn’t seem it has quite taken off.

    iCloud offers 5 GB of storage space. I don't use it in favor of Dropbox and Copy with a slight reliance on OneDrive.

    • My phone's backup take 520 MB of that space for reference.
    • (Unfortunately Copy is shutting down so I had to adjust. More on that in Part II.)


    Apple Maps navigation integrates with the lockscreen, showing directions when locked, which is really nice and something I want to see being taken advantage of in Windows. In my limited turn-by-turn navigation experience with it, it has worked quite well. I haven’t driven off of any overpasses yet, so Apple Maps has that going for it.

    I had no issues with performance, iOS 9.1 and 9.2 on this phone is more than speedy enough and web browsing was pleasant.
    App switching performed well, rarely was I left enough time staring at a splash screen to imagine a "Loading…" or "Resuming…" appearing on screen.
    The experience was mostly quirk free as well. Easily on par with 8.0 and 8.1 in their prime in terms of reliability I’d say at least.

    The Health app is about what I expected, tracking steps and stuff. It has this cool Medical ID feature that while its usage situations are slim and unlikely for most people, it’s a nice touch.

    iOS isn't speedy in feature additions, I'll say that, but I can say each upgrade builds on what was there before and features tend to NOT get removed.

    Stripped Screws

    Things I took issue with.

    I couldn’t change the default notification sounds of many apps like I could with Windows Phone. I can't really choose default apps either, although Windows Phone isn't perfect in that regard either though.

    The Contacts app left me underwhelmed. I know Facebook syncing works because I've seen it in action on other's phones, but it didn’t for me. But Contacts was just a simple address book. I missed Windows Phone's People app. I used Sync.ME to sync contact photos with Facebook.
    I wanted to use my groups too in Outlook, but Contacts doesn’t seem to want to play ball.

    Oddly, when adding a new phone number to a contact card, the type defaulted not to "mobile" or "home," but to "home fax", which leaves me scratching my head. I never had to fax anyone at home, let alone fax in my lifetime.

    iOS doesn't seem to offer any way for applications to reach into the cloud to fetch photos. GroupMe on iOS had built-in Bing image and GIF search (which was a net positive) but the system photo picker could only upload photos on the device itself. Windows Phone's photo picker offered cloud image fetching from e.g. Facebook or OneDrive that I also missed.

    I had to get a third-party app for manual controls, (I got Focus) but it just isn't the same. Just can't beat the Lumia camera UX in the camera department. The iPhone may have more features (like Apple isn't about to remove Slo Mo or Panorama functionality), but it just doesn't have that depth of control I sometimes want.

    I do not like Apple Music. I came in expecting a great music player because iPod, but I was sorely disappointed. I mean, I'll admit that my taste in UX might be different than the average person, but just I couldn't stand the app.

    • I do not care for the Radio and Connect tabs - I don't stream.
    • Can't swipe between tracks, despite left and right swipes not serving any other purpose.
    • Recently added is front-and-center which is a nice touch I liked.
    • Can only scroll somewhere around a couple dozen tracks ahead in the playlist - a big one for me.
    • It just didn't feel right.

    Needless to say, I don't use Apple Music. (I would've preferred 8.1's Xbox Music app to this)
    On the plus side, I found a terrific player to replace it: Marvis. It is officially my favorite music player across all platforms so far. (closely followed by Groove and CorePlayer on Windows Phone, Blackplayer EX on Android)

    iOS does not have much of an accessible filesystem. Photos can be imported using a file browser and put on it with iTunes, but otherwise individual apps and the cloud handle the files. No USB mass storage, or even Mass Transfer Protocol/MTP here.

    I can’t figure out how to make Siri proactively ask me about text messages like Cortana did and I really miss that. (e.g. automatically saying "You got a text from..." when in the car.) Sure I can ask Siri to read my recent notifications or texts, but it needs input first.

    A minor side-effect of developmental neglect is less support for ads on Windows I feel. But still its not enough to say it’s a net positive though.

    It’s almost a law of physics that an iPhone will inherently slow down as it receives major updates from Apple. Whether intentional, laziness, or lack of pizza, who knows. Its still a phenomenon that most recently affects the iPhone 4s.
    iTunes

    Since I was using an iPhone and wanted to throw in local media, I had to deal with iTunes on my PC.
    iTunes on my PC wasn't too bad of an experience. Whether its full-featured or bloated is probably subjective, although I’m leaning towards the latter. It’s certainly not as bad as it was a few years ago when I could hardly tolerate it.

    But it works. It won't win any performance awards but it technically works. iTunes did not kill me, and that’s gotta count for something.
    It synced my ~9 GB music collection fairly speedily (over Wi-Fi) and could fetch album art from online, although I tended to add my art manually. (shoutout to Mp3tag)

    Adding custom tones was much more tedious than the other two platforms multiplied by each other, needing an AAC .m4r file before it'll be added, but I got the job done eventually.
    Once those custom tones were added, adding them to individual people on the phone was as easy as it could be, working just like on Windows Phone.

    Playlist syncing was bulletproof unlike my more finicky experience with Xbox Music/Groove and the smart playlists are, well, smart. I favor one for driving and a smart one for Recently Added. (I’m still salty Microsoft took out the Recently added section from the Music Hub in 8.0.)

    Ultimately, the ease of management and syncing makes it so if I could just snap my fingers and have it work with other phones I probably would do it. It's not as good as I'd expect from Apple but it’s still quite useful. I would prefer the option of manually taking control of stored videos though.
    (I would previously just try to either remember what music I just added and manually add them later or only get music when I had my phone or card plugged in - so in total, iTunes is a slight net positive.)

    It can sync my phone’s bookmarks with Internet Explorer which is a plus, but I’ve since switched to Firefox, which doesn’t show up oddly enough. At least iOS straight up has a Firefox app though.
    Mind the Application Gap

    Now that the core system things are out of the way, I can talk about… the APPS:

    The apps were there. I got my Snapchat, GroupMe and superior OneNote (with Touch ID compatibility),etc. and I was pleasantly surprised by the step up in quality seen in Facebook Messenger, Skype, etc.

    Facebook Paper is great Facebook client, it isn't as up-to-date in working with all the features like replies to individual comments but its fluid card-based UX is the best I've used. There's a bit of a learning curve though. (ironically I use it because it gets less updates due to Facebook’s tendency to run experiments using the main app.)
    I also miss this app on Android.

    Facebook Messenger now lets us Quick Reply to messages from the notification. (think W10M's new quick reply feature for texts, which iOS added in 8) And that's nifty, although I need to put in my passcode/use Touch ID to send a message unlike the default Messages which was a mild annoyance.

    I tried using Alien Blue for reddit but I didn't like it. Narwhal is my current favorite reddit client of all time.

    Instagram shows sponsored pictures and media to me, a definite plus for 6tag there.

    The MSN News app flat out sucks on iOS, which is odd considering MS is arguably at its best on iOS. It technically works, but once you leave the app and come back, it loses its spot and reloads from scratch.

    I used a Package Tracker (aptly named literally that) which tracked my packages across an app on desktop Windows 8.x and Windows Phone - I definitely miss that functionality, although Cortana compensates for that.

    but hey, I finally got a built-in stopwatch now, so I got that going for me, which is nice.

    Ultimately, I enjoyed me iOS adventure by any stretch; it was (and is) a terrific phone. I came away impressed. I think it may still have the overall app advantage, but the platform works, but isn't the best fit for me.
    I have no qualms recommending it by default though.

    But it was trying out Android; namely CyanogenMod 13 (based upon Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow) that truly blew me away.

    Although that had tradeoffs of its own.
    02-16-2016 01:17 PM
  2. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    Excellent and thorough review! 😊 This will be very helpful to members.

    Did you try Google Maps or HERE Maps on iOS? If so, how do they compare to Apple Maps?
    02-16-2016 01:41 PM
  3. xandros9's Avatar
    Part II: The Green Robot Chronicles

    A big reason I ended up picking up an iPhone first was the sheer amount of overwhelming choice and potential to get an undesirable device in Android. With an iPhone, it was simple. Pick carrier, storage, color, price/condition and you’re off to the races with a phone you’ll know will work.

    In Android-land, things got complicated fast, (like, 0-60 in an EV1 fast) partially by what I wanted in a phone. My requirements were not quite the typical wishlist.

    • Something with a maximum 5" display that isn't low-end
      • I’m a huge stickler for size, so this was one of the bigger issues.

    • Not expensive – I was buying used so I could get something older, but high-end in its time.
    • Updates
      • (the situation is relatively poor so I changed that to devices with an unlocked bootloader. More on that at 11.)

    • Good enough performance (I’m not a pixel or GHz counter.)
    • Decent camera + LED flash (I knew my Lumia’s have spoiled me so I can’t expect too much.)


    Ultimately after much time spent on XDA developers and reading up on devices I settled on an unlocked Samsung Galaxy Alpha SM-G850W.

    Check here if you want to see the thinking behind this and not the others…

    • The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact was a very strong contender but it was pricier than I'd like (that's just me) and it was just ditched by Sony officially and was pricier. The camera tech was degraded by rooting because of Sony’s DRM too but Sony is otherwise pretty dev friendly. If not the Alpha, I’d have probably gotten this.
    • BLU made very inexpensive phones that I found compelling, although often rubbing up against my hard 5" display tolerance ceiling. But still, I found the Vivo Air and Studio Energy 2 to be very compelling. But the devices typically get no updates and there was practically zero custom ROM support to compensate, so they were a non-starter, although I liked the hardware.
    • I ultimately didn't choose the GS5 Mini (which was another contender) because of its lack of official and relative unofficial support.
    • I skipped the Moto phones because I wanted something with a better camera than they had as well as I wanted something that wasn’t quite low-end. The more recent G was kinda big too and some older contenders didn’t have an SD slot and had not enough space onboard.


    But enough theory, now for the hands-on!

    WARNING: All experiences with the phone was with an unofficial build of CyanogenMod 13 (Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow) so I did not experience the phone as Samsung intended. This means no fingerprint scanning, heart rate monitor and some other Samsung-unique features like Air View will not be mentioned. I also experienced some Cyanogen-unique features like their implementation of f.lux, called Live Display. So go about reading the rest with this in mind.

    The Good

    • It’s not too big yet still has reasonably powerful internals.
      • Snapdragon 801, 2 GB RAM in a 4.7” display (it’s the SM-850W variant – this is important)
        • It appears Snapdragons are more dev friendly instead of the Exynos models.
        • Also I’m a bit of a Snapdragon fan, especially over the MediaTek chips in many lower-end devices.


    • It’s metal frame and overall slim design makes for a gorgeous device.
      • The soft-touch, textured back cover feels pretty nice too.
      • I got a slightly thicker wireless charging back and it feels just as nice.

    • Fingerprint sensor and heart rate monitor.
      • (DOES NOT WORK ON CM13/HAVEN’T USED IT – SO I DON’T HAVE HANDS ON EXPERIENCE WITH THESE)

    • multicolor notification LED
    • Samsung plans to release Marshmallow officially for the model too, but that won’t affect me - still a plus for the model in the event I go stock.
    • The bootloader of the variant is unlocked meaning CyanogenMod and other custom ROMs if they happen.
      • ALERT: the generally cheaper AT&T model (SM-850A) has a locked bootloader so you’re stuck with whatever AT&T and Samsung release, which is 5.0.2 Lollipop right now I believe.
      • This model kinda doesn’t have too much dev support since it wasn’t the most popular anyway.

    • official Qi wireless charging support is optional, but it’s there. (and I got the official Qi cover :) )
    • Can be used with gloves on.
    • The 12 MP camera doesn’t seem bad at all. I haven’t done too much yet, but I like it enough to put it in here. It still doesn’t seem to stand up to the Lumia’s so far.
    • I get glance functionality back, but it’s more a software thing this time around. More on that in a bit.


    The Bad

    • No microSD
      • the phone has 32 GB built-in so it became a smaller issue. I'll live regardless.
      • thankfully transferring to the internal memory isn't as slow or error-prone as it was in my past Lumia experience, despite also using MTP - which only allows literally one function to happen at a time.
        • (you're copying something? well you can't browse elsewhere or delete anything yet!")


    • Relatively small battery, but I’ve decided to put it in the “The Fence” section below since it seems to perform just fine anyway.
    • No ringer switch
    • official Qi wireless charging support is optional. (I had to shell out for a Qi cover – which is very hard to find)
    • I still miss my camera button.
    • No Optical Image Stabilization + camera just isn’t as good as what I’m used to. (could be CM though - I realize I want my 920's camera back.)
    • The volume buttons are kinda high on the frame, I find myself pressing up by accident at times.
    • The display can be a bit too sensitive.

    The Fence

    • The 4.7” 720p AMOLED panel isn’t bad at all, I like it.
      • However whether burn-in is an issue remains to be seen.
        • Worth noting that this phone is already used.

      • the PenTile subpixel arrangement is something I’ve traditionally disliked because of its fuzzier nature but it’s actually not bad at all in this case. I haven’t been annoyed at all thus far.
      • Also worth noting that sometimes the scrolling pixels lag when scrolling, depending

    • The battery is kinda small.
      • 1860 mAh
      • However, GSMArena's battery test showed an overall synthetic result on par with my current 5s so I decided it was good enough, despite the relatively small 1860 mAh pack. I'm kinda sad its impossible to find the official extended battery these days though.
      • With some tweaking like Greenify, etc. I can get a day and a half of standby with a few hours of screen-on time.
      • 12-18 hours of life with probably max 4-6 hours screen-on time.
      • So in a nutshell, out-of-the-box it had mediocre battery, but tweaking it has improved it quite a bit and I am very happy now.
      • I left it for several hours overnight and came back to a phone in the mid-80’s estimating three days of remaining battery life. Not quite iPhone standby endurance but its not bad at all. I would think that Doze is at work here.

    • It’s more awkward in the hand than the iPhone, but its not as bad as the 920 and 830.
      • It’s just because of its size though.

    • No slo-mo video capture support yet in CM13 I think, but there is 4K. But the lack of expandable memory puts a sizeable damper on that.
      • It is slo-mo capable though!

    • Has NFC, but I don’t use it often. Worth noting that as is standard Samsung fare, the NFC coil is built into the battery in a way I assume is to discourage 3rd-party replacement packs – not a huge fan of that.
    • This phone has a physical home button too flanked with two capacitive keys.
      • Android does let you enable soft keys though.
      • This particular unit though has a pretty mushy home key.



    Going Soft

    Oh boy, where to start.
    There’s a LOT more to talk about here than on iOS just because Android and it freedom it entails. Now, keep in mind this entire piece is based upon a CM13 ROM, which has its differences from stock Android on say, a Nexus and Samsung’s TouchWiz goodies on stock Galaxies. There is just so much variety that what I right here might not necessarily apply to another Android device. But anyways, here we go…
    I can say Android is like Windows on the desktop. It’s a decent OS that can let the user do virtually whatever the heck they want. I can argue this is a double-edged sword as there’s potentially more to go wrong depending on the user, OS version, yet the possibilities are pretty darn close to endless.

    The Paintjob

    Except you can replace the paint with anything, like wallpaper or metal plating.

    I’ll just start with the interface like I did with Part I.
    Problem is, the UI can be changed so much so as to render this section meaningless if I zero in on a specific UI, so I’ll try to keep it broad and paint a picture of what you CAN do.
    Android at its core has the same tried-and-true basic UX paradigm. There’s a “home” section from which one can launch applications. Well, we can swap out the default home screen for another one. (like Palm OS if you’re a relative old timer in smartphone-land.)

    I can use the ZenUI home screen or switch it out for the popular Nova launcher.
    CM has its default Trebuchet, which works and Google has the popular Google Now Launcher.

    Overall they look similar, but there are differences. GNL has easy access to GNow, others do different things, etc. Nokia even has Z Launcher. (which throws me off because I'm more familiar with Palm OS's Z Launcher) Probably is personal preference here.
    I use Action 3.

    Another customization aspect is theming. CyanogenMod has theme support out-of-the-metaphorical-box which I use to great effect. I like my phone predominantly black. It looks cool and saves power as well. One can mix and match boot animations, status bar icons, fonts, etc. It is invaluable.

    For example, I use a Symbian Belle style icon pack for my apps. Looks nice and makes everything consistent.

    Something people have argued about is widgets vs. live tiles. They are both nice I'll admit, and I'm not a huge user on Android of widgets. I use weather, my Outlook calendar, and Cortana. which is about it. Widgets can be very inconsistent in style, so that's an issue that needs dealing with someday.

    Nuts ‘n’ Bolts

    Performance-wise, I have no issues despite not having the latest silicon under the hood.
    But the biggest things I want to say is that YMMV. Your Mileage May Vary.

    Samsung's TouchWiz skin can add a lot of features and bloat to the OS. Nexus phones don't have too much thrown on top, etc.

    One thing Android does not lack is options. There are just so many things one can toggle, I could spend hours fine tuning, well anything. And it’s a double-edged sword.
    On one hand, I have the freedom to tweak many things, but on the other, it can be a huge timesink.

    CyanogenMod adds even more options and features, its ludicrous. I can't possible cover it all.

    But what I can cover is the default settings and phone loadout might not be optimal. Depending.

    But to give an idea what I can do...
    I can set Cortana as the default assistant, turn on virtual keys, remap soft keys, double-tap to sleep, change LED color and tempo settings, move the clock around on my status bar, install apps that replace my lockscreen, etc.

    But wait! There's more!
    There's a lot more to play with if you're technically inclined. Like for example, I'm using Blackberry Keyboard on my device and reined in inefficient power usage in regards to some apps with Greenify, etc. (replacement keyboards work better on Android than iOS - I personally am excited for Word Flow, but I'm not sure I want to give up my SwiftKey or BB keyboard.)

    Something I want to note is that a feature called Ambient Display is present here. And its like Glance. Which is glorious. http://www.androidcentral.com/ambient-display-nexus-6

    Alarms are put in the notification bar for some time before they go off, allowing me to preemptively dismiss them like in the case I wake up before my phone's alarm does. A great touch.

    UPDATE 21 February 2016 - I believe I forgot to mention that continuing to press volume down after its already been put on silent enables Do Not Disturb/Quiet Hours, which is, while not as great as a ringer switch, still a great UX touch.

    Stripped Screws

    Android has its downsides I’ll admit.
    It’s potential security liabilities has made headlines on tech sites with vulnerabilities like Stagefright, but while Google has taken steps to try to improve the situation, many people, especially those in the low-end of Android land are liable.
    Updates
    Updates, updates, updates. It’s all about updates.

    Overall it can be a bit buggier but its not a concern. First of all I'm using non-stock software. Anyways, my Clock app has the tendency to crash once in a while when I try to open it. That's the worst of it though. Everything works fine otherwise.

    More freedom to do things and root around under the hood means more freedom to screw up the phone. Normal users don't have to worry about it typically, but with great freedom comes great caution. Interestingly, in the Recovery (think accessing the BIOS of a computer, except on a phone - look up TWRP or ClockworkMod if you want to know more) I can make the equivalent of a system image. A bit-by-bit backup of the phone. That is an invaluable tool.

    Despite all the freedom, some things haven't been changed by anyone. I wish for a multitasking-view first launcher like webOS, Blackberry 10 or the Jolla launcher, but nothing recent that I can use. I am personally not a fan of the rolodex multitasking view Lollipop introduced. I'm sad Duarte hasn't brought more of the webOS UX to Android.

    Since I was getting into a device with the intent of modding it and not using it as-is, I had to do my homework. I haven't been in the Android scene since a Galaxy S II test device a while back on KitKat. I had to read XDA threads and found out there are a few variants of the Galaxy Alpha, which is weird. Lumia's have dual SIM and single SIM options and different bands at the most, but with this phone, we're talking different chipsets altogether.

    I haven't been able to drive with this phone since it's arrived, so I can't say how well Cortana handles text messages and driving. (I axed Google Now.)

    The stock contacts app doesn't impress me either. I want my People back.

    I can't use the fingerprint scanner so I make do with a pattern lock. Works well enough but iOS has still spoiled me.

    Whenever the Ambient Display mode activates (basically whenever Glance turns on), touching the screen brings up the lockscreen, which is a bigger pain than it may sound like. I wish the touchscreen was still off at the point.

    It seems like actionable notifications aren't as widespread as on iOS. But then again we do have things like chat heads and widgets.

    UPDATE: I forgot to mention I'm missing Visual Voicemail, which is a pain considering Windows Phone 8 and iOS had it. I guess I'll have to make do somehow.

    Toto, We’re not in the Windows Store anymore…

    App selection, like iOS, is plentiful. I had just about everything I did on my iPhone. There’s no shortage but it’s a slightly different kind of plenty. Many apps can do things iOS can only dream of like replacing built-in solutions (I CAN CHANGE MY DEFAULT TEXT MESSAGES APP!) and mod system files to achieve desired results like changing the boot animation.

    There's sometimes an app that feels slightly more rough than their iOS counterparts but its well worth it for me.

    Worth noting that the stock Facebook app is a bit of a power-hog. Many in the community use alternatives like Metal, Lite, the web browser.
    (Chrome allows websites to send push notifications, which is actually a good idea)

    Microsoft apps do work well though. Office does what I expect and we even have some extra goodies Windows Phone doesn't have. (and I'm not talking those random MS Garage projects.)

    The MS account app can let you authenticate yourself in one tap.
    Cortana integrates well and you can send text messages and be alerted of missed calls on your Windows 10 PC. She feels slightly less reliable than on 8.1, but she works.

    I miss Narwhal from iOS though for reddit. I use Sync but I haven't tried to go find another.

    We have not one, but two WC apps! I prefer the Forums one, but they do kinda overlap.
    Getting updates is nice too.

    I had to try to find a camera app to my liking, and I'm still looking. I found ProShot, but last time I tried, some Marshmallow related bug meant that app couldn't be made default.

    Finding a decent music player was harder because I'm pretty picky, but I've settled on BlackPlayer EX. It fits the bill. I also paid money for an iTunes syncing solution which, while it isn't speedy, it syncs my playlists which is a godsend. I did try out many a music player and wasn't impressed. Phonograph, Play Music and Rocket Player are good, but not quite there. But for most people they'll be just fine. (I wanted a primarily black UI too)

    GroupMe on Android has the best of both competing platforms. The Android image picker can reach into the web depending on whats installed (like my Dropbox pictures folder) as well as searching for GIF's directly.

    Google Fit is well designed and does the job. (since the phone can act as a pedometer)

    It's worth noting that many in the Android community felt neglected when iOS's Hangouts app got a big update well before Android, so don't worry too much fellow WP fans!
    Hangouts is also losing a big feature - SMS integration - soon, which makes me scratch my head despite just getting onboard the platform. I dont use Hangouts though, haven't used it in a year.

    Facebook Messenger's "chat heads" functionality (as well as the OneNote badge) is crazy good and is something I really appreciate.

    I want to also note that Part I may have seen more details. Regardless, I'll update this post as things happen but I think its ready to go public.

    Overall getting set up on Android was a bumpier road from start to finish, but I'm much more satisfied with the end result. I think I'll be holding onto this phone for a while.
    Last edited by xandros9; 02-23-2016 at 05:13 PM.
    02-16-2016 02:16 PM
  4. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    Have you used already made icons, themes, fonts, and widgets; or have you used Zooper to make your own?

    If they are pre-made, which icons, themes, fonts, and widgets have you used? Are those only available on CM, or are they available in Play Store?
    Guytronic, gpobernardo and a5cent like this.
    02-16-2016 02:37 PM
  5. xandros9's Avatar
    Excellent and thorough review!  This will be very helpful to members.

    Did you try Google Maps or HERE Maps on iOS? If so, how do they compare to Apple Maps?
    Thank you!

    I had HERE and Google Maps on hand. I didn't get to put HERE through its paces, although it did help me out when being in the mountains left me without cellular connectivity. The offline support alone is worth having. I know mother got to enjoy offline HERE maps when she went overseas on her iPhone.

    I think Google has the best POI database, at least where I am located on the East Coast. HERE on Windows Phone was never great AFAIK and I can't say about Apple Maps.

    Have you used already made icons, themes, fonts, and widgets; or have you used Zooper to make your own?

    If they are pre-made, which icons, themes, fonts, and widgets have you used? Are those only available on CM, or are they available in Play Store?
    I used premade icon packs and themes. I never heard of Zooper until now actually.
    Right now I favor either Belle UI Icon Pack or Glasklart for icons. (the latter I actually once used on the iPod touch I had)
    For the overall theme I use Nicholas' Blacked Out theme. Makes me feel at home. (and it helps with power too)

    All of the above are on the Play Store, albeit the theme is for CM12/13.

    I also want to say that I feel I'm missing some stuff in the Android part, so anyone feel free to ask a question - help me fill in gaps.
    02-16-2016 05:52 PM
  6. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    I've never used CM. I've only used stock Android and Xposed. As a result, I'm not the right person to ask about CM. I have used icon packs and fonts. I'll have to try Zooper and make some custom stuff. There was an Android App Arena podcast from TwitTV about Zooper awhile ago. Here's the link to the podcast.
    Last edited by Laura Knotek; 02-16-2016 at 10:19 PM.
    02-16-2016 07:37 PM
  7. libra89's Avatar
    Very interesting thread @Xandros9! I appreciate you detailing your experiences. Interestingly enough, your Android experience has introduced some new apps to me. Is it too early to say which one you are leaning on, or would you like to do more of a test run with Android?

    I wanted the Galaxy Alpha myself actually, so it's doubly interesting to read your experience. The size seemed perfect, but I was only able to find the AT&T variant or the Euro variant and I was also concerned about battery life.
    02-16-2016 09:37 PM
  8. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    I had HERE and Google Maps on hand. I didn't get to put HERE through its paces, although it did help me out when being in the mountains left me without cellular connectivity. The offline support alone is worth having. I know mother got to enjoy offline HERE maps when she went overseas on her iPhone.

    I think Google has the best POI database, at least where I am located on the East Coast. HERE on Windows Phone was never great AFAIK and I can't say about Apple Maps.
    How do Google Maps and HERE Maps on Android compare to those on iOS?
    Guytronic likes this.
    02-16-2016 10:18 PM
  9. Nogitsune Micah's Avatar
    Xandros, I am very disappointed with you!:)
    02-16-2016 10:26 PM
  10. xandros9's Avatar
    Very interesting thread @Xandros9! I appreciate you detailing your experiences. Interestingly enough, your Android experience has introduced some new apps to me. Is it too early to say which one you are leaning on, or would you like to do more of a test run with Android?

    I wanted the Galaxy Alpha myself actually, so it's doubly interesting to read your experience. The size seemed perfect, but I was only able to find the AT&T variant or the Euro variant and I was also concerned about battery life.
    I'm not sure what you mean, what as you asking by what apps I leaning on? Like what I use typically?

    XDA played a big role in picking the 850W, I think if you have to get another flavor like the 850F, this might be worth checking out. [ROM] [G850] [M 6.0.1_r13] ResurrectionRemix€ | Samsung Galaxy Alpha

    along with other threads here Samsung Galaxy Alpha

    Just not the 850A AT&T model, which doesn't appear to have root or custom ROM support, both big things.

    I'd really consider a Sony Xperia Z1 or Z3 Compact actually, it has just about everything. (I just didn't want to spend as much as it cost though)

    As for battery life, as I wrote, it isn't bad at all. I got a second battery because I was anticipating poor performance (I had a Z10 that lasted 10 hours, tops) but I'm left using the spare for when I'm in a road-warrior sort of situation, which is rare. I don't use the heck out of it. SOT is maybe 2-4 hours in a day.

    How do Google Maps and HERE Maps on Android compare to those on iOS?
    HERE on both platforms appears to be the same. I can't compare them head-to-head but they seem to have the same UI and buttons.

    As for Google, I'm not sure. I think it has more bells and whistles than on iOS, but I don't have a working iOS device in front of me right now.

    Xandros, I am very disappointed with you!:)
    Hey hey I got to do what I got to do! ;)
    02-16-2016 10:42 PM
  11. libra89's Avatar
    I'm sorry if I confused you. I meant that some of the apps you mentioned, are new to me in general, and I had no idea about them before your post here. That's good to know about the Galaxy Alpha, thank you! I'm liking the Nexus 5x a lot though, but it doesn't hurt for me to look into it.

    My question was about if you feel like you prefer Android or iOS so far, based on your adventures so far or if it's too early to say. I read it with a slight leaning on iOS but you can correct me if I'm wrong, but regardless, I'll like to hear what you have to say.
    a5cent likes this.
    02-16-2016 11:07 PM
  12. xandros9's Avatar
    I'm sorry if I confused you. I meant that some of the apps you mentioned, are new to me in general, and I had no idea about them before your post here. That's good to know about the Galaxy Alpha, thank you! I'm liking the Nexus 5x a lot though, but it doesn't hurt for me to look into it.

    My question was about if you feel like you prefer Android or iOS so far, based on your adventures so far or if it's too early to say. I read it with a slight leaning on iOS but you can correct me if I'm wrong, but regardless, I'll like to hear what you have to say.
    Oh I see.

    Actually I also considered the Nexus 5, but the camera and battery were potential sticking points. Whether I made the right call, I don't know, time will tell. Great, now I'm doubting myself! (and Maru looks promising too!)

    I'm leaning towards Android easily. Between the flexibility and raw feature potential, I don't mind trading some of iOS's foolproof nature and whatnot. More unique too out here.
    02-16-2016 11:17 PM
  13. msweig's Avatar
    Interesting. Thanks!
    xandros9 likes this.
    02-17-2016 01:43 AM
  14. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    and Maru looks promising too!
    I think I'd be more inclined to try Maru on a tablet than on a phone.
    a5cent likes this.
    02-17-2016 01:57 AM
  15. libra89's Avatar
    Xandros, some of what you said about iOS kind of makes me want to try it for a bit too. Not the most recent but I see a really low price on some of the 5c/5s series. I keep hearing this thing about that it's easier to make ms work well on this platform, or something along those lines.
    02-19-2016 10:57 AM
  16. xandros9's Avatar
    Xandros, some of what you said about iOS kind of makes me want to try it for a bit too. Not the most recent but I see a really low price on some of the 5c/5s series. I keep hearing this thing about that it's easier to make ms work well on this platform, or something along those lines.
    If you can afford a 5s used, I'd definitely try it.

    MS apps worked well. They did call it an iPhone Pro.
    libra89, Laura Knotek and a5cent like this.
    02-19-2016 02:07 PM
  17. libra89's Avatar
    If you can afford a 5s used, I'd definitely try it.

    MS apps worked well. They did call it an iPhone Pro.
    Thank you, I figured that you'll know! I found one for less than $200 (and jumped on it), so who knows, I'll probably share your observations.
    xandros9 and a5cent like this.
    02-19-2016 03:09 PM
  18. P1ng0fDeath's Avatar
    This is was very interesting to read, thank you for your time doing this. It gives us a perspective on how all 3 platforms have their good and bad sides. Btw i'm always surprised at how the Moto X and Nexus 6 not only "borrowed" Glance Screen from Nokia, but also improved it. Yet Microsoft almost completely neglected it on the x30 series.

    Anyway, do you think Android still suffers from loss of performance over time, after months of use and installing/uninstalling apps, etc? Do you have any experience on this?
    02-19-2016 11:39 PM
  19. xandros9's Avatar
    This is was very interesting to read, thank you for your time doing this. It gives us a perspective on how all 3 platforms have their good and bad sides. Btw i'm always surprised at how the Moto X and Nexus 6 not only "borrowed" Glance Screen from Nokia, but also improved it. Yet Microsoft almost completely neglected it on the x30 series.

    Anyway, do you think Android still suffers from loss of performance over time, after months of use and installing/uninstalling apps, etc? Do you have any experience on this?
    That remains to be seen personally as I've had this for about a month.

    Laura however is a pretty happy camper IIRC.
    02-20-2016 02:36 AM
  20. Josh Harman's Avatar
    I'm considering getting an Android soon to try out, but I have numerous reasons that are keeping me away and most of them revolve around Google making me almost hate them... and a conspiracy theory about Google's origins LOL.

    Anyway, I just tried an iPhone 6 for about a month as my personal phone [I've used an iPhone 4s and 5s for years as locked down company phone (only a few preapproved apps)].

    Well, I'm back on my 950 now but I had a pleasant experience with the iPhone. First, APPS. No duh, right?

    Outlook on iPhone looks like a tool, whereas on Windows 10 mobile it looks like toy. It's just flat out better on iOS, but I will say that there are features on W10 that iOS doesn't have - a major one is that Outlook on iOS is doesn't support POP account (probably the most widely used format).

    I hate to sound a teenage girl, but SNAPCHAT. Yeah, it's fun and I us just not available on Windows phone.

    This could go on and on, but it's no secret that apps are what's really holding the platform back, and while there are some Microsoft store that are great on Windows 10, it's most disturbing that so many are far better on other platforms... especially when they are touting the ease of porting, why no parity?

    CAMERA. You know for all the awesome commercial from Apple about their amazing camera, it actually sucks. And when compared nearly any Windows phone its garbage. The iPhone camera was a major factor in driving me back to the Lumia 950.

    SIZE. The iPhone 6 has almost the same footprint as the Lumia 950, despite having about 1/2 inch less screen.

    SCREEN. Another knock on the iPhone, again Apple's hype is just that. The screen on the iPhone 6 is not at all comparable to the 950 and I think it's just resolution, the screen may have even been better on my Lumia 830.

    Ultimately, Snapchat was the only thing on the iPhone pulling me to keep it. Since I've got the management off my work phone I downloaded it there and it was no brainer going back to the 950.
    02-20-2016 03:34 AM
  21. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    This is was very interesting to read, thank you for your time doing this. It gives us a perspective on how all 3 platforms have their good and bad sides. Btw i'm always surprised at how the Moto X and Nexus 6 not only "borrowed" Glance Screen from Nokia, but also improved it. Yet Microsoft almost completely neglected it on the x30 series.

    Anyway, do you think Android still suffers from loss of performance over time, after months of use and installing/uninstalling apps, etc? Do you have any experience on this?
    That remains to be seen personally as I've had this for about a month.

    Laura however is a pretty happy camper IIRC.
    I have not noticed any issues with performance degradation on Android. However, I've only used Nexus and Moto devices, not any devices with heavy OEM skins/launchers.
    P1ng0fDeath and libra89 like this.
    02-20-2016 03:45 AM
  22. P1ng0fDeath's Avatar
    I have not noticed any issues with performance degradation on Android. However, I've only used Nexus and Moto devices, not any devices with heavy OEM skins/launchers.
    I see... those have stock Android, right? The Moto X Play is one of the phones i'm interested in, but the Xperia M4 is closer to what i can afford, and it has OEM customizations, that's why i'm a bit afraid.
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    02-20-2016 06:20 PM
  23. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    I see... those have stock Android, right? The Moto X Play is one of the phones i'm interested in, but the Xperia M4 is closer to what i can afford, and it has OEM customizations, that's why i'm a bit afraid.
    Yes, those have stock Android.

    I'm not at all familiar with Sony. No Sony devices are available for AT&T. I've never seen a Sony device. I believe T-Mobile used to sell them, but the T-Mobile stores don't have them anymore.
    02-20-2016 06:50 PM
  24. P1ng0fDeath's Avatar
    Yes, those have stock Android.

    I'm not at all familiar with Sony. No Sony devices are available for AT&T. I've never seen a Sony device. I believe T-Mobile used to sell them, but the T-Mobile stores don't have them anymore.
    yeah, looks like Sony phones are not very popular apart from the Z series. But they do seem to be good Android phones. Guess i'll grab one and try it out myself.
    libra89 and Laura Knotek like this.
    02-22-2016 08:46 PM
  25. libra89's Avatar
    yeah, looks like Sony phones are not very popular apart from the Z series. But they do seem to be good Android phones. Guess i'll grab one and try it out myself.
    Let us know what you think. I hear that the battery life is impressive. It's just really hard to find here, and even the older ones are $$$ (at least to me anyway).
    02-22-2016 09:57 PM
111 123 ...

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-16-2016, 06:14 PM
  2. Windows 10 Mail and Calendar Exchange Problem Hash, Help?
    By Windows Central Question in forum Windows 10
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 02-16-2016, 12:39 PM
  3. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-16-2016, 12:38 PM
  4. Windows 10 mail and calendar, can I get some help?
    By Windows Central Question in forum Windows 10
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 02-16-2016, 12:31 PM
  5. One Drive Auto Sync and offline availability?
    By Windows Central Question in forum OneDrive
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 02-16-2016, 09:03 AM
LINK TO POST COPIED TO CLIPBOARD
We have updated our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions. Please check them out.